April 17, 2017

Meet Baby Henry!

Happy Monday!

A lot has happened in the last few weeks!

Our second boy, Henry, joined our family on the 19th. We are still adjusting to being parents of two kids, but we love our new normal. Lucas loves his little brother and will check on him multiple times throughout the day along with giving him kisses on the head. It has been interesting to watch Henry's personality develop and how different yet similar the two boys are.

I will be writing more over the next few days. 

In the meantime, come follow me on Instagram: @davidbcluff to see more of what we are up to.

March 10, 2017

1000 Videos for the Deaf

I find pleasure working with individuals and organizations that work to help make a difference in the community. Every once in a while you will see a post highlighting groups that I get to meet. 

Recently, I have been collaborating with a non-profit organization, Deaf Kids Code, and it has been fun to learn about what they are working to achieve. Deaf Kids Code is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bridge the severe economic and social gaps that exist among the deaf and hard of hearing through the cultivation of computing and technology skills. Recently, Deaf Kids Code partnered with Purdue University’s EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program, in which multidisciplinary teams of students work on real world problems with community partners to tackle issues across the globe. Deaf Kids Code and the DKC EPICS team are currently working together to translate Khan Academy JavaScript coding tutorials into American Sign Language. Khan Academy has endorsed their work and we will be able to post to their official website once they get 1000 videos.

Want to learn more about what is trying to be achieved?  Come to this FREE Tech Fair on April 2nd in West Lafayette, Indiana!

You can find them on FACEBOOK or visit their website to learn more about how you can help: deafkidscode.org

March 7, 2017

Behind The Lens

Ever had a moment where you took the time to know someone or a story behind a project and your perspective about that individual or project changes? I had a moment like that when reading the story behind the song “Forever” by Nathan Pacheco. For a long time, I found his songs beautiful but once I took the time to read the story behind this song, I developed a personal connection and appreciation for it. As a photographer, it is easy to feel like I am just another photographer among the many others, just like the feeling of "just another song." I began to ask myself, what is my story behind the lens?

The first thing that comes to mind is my hearing loss story, which is a huge part of me. I am also a father, husband and an individual who strives to help others reach their potential. Losing my hearing was devastating but also a huge blessing in my life. Because of that journey, I have been able to meet so many people and learn from each person. Photography became another big part of my life when I was 16 years old. When I lost my hearing, everything was silent and my world consisted of expressions of emotions through sign language.

The first time I took a photo, all I saw was a moment of time and expressions of emotions. At that moment, I knew I wanted to share my perspective through photography. It became a passion of mine. It was never about how much money I can make or how popular I can get, but simply to share my perspective of the world around me. My son, Lucas, is one of my favorite things to photograph. He displays so much emotion and it puts a smile on my face. I also enjoy working with families and individuals to capture moments in their life. Memories are made out of moments in time.

My story behind the lens continues to unfold and expand. When I meet new photographers and organizations, I strive to learn more about their story. I hope we can all learn more about those around us who contribute to the community.

March 5, 2017

Twins & Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday!

Today, my son and I got to be twins! Check it out!

We are expecting our second child in a few weeks and could not be any more excited. Want to follow more of our journey? Follow me on Instagram: @davidbcluff or https://www.instagram.com/davidbcluff/

Have a great week!

February 27, 2017

It's Important. Be You!

Over the last few weeks, I have been able to collaborate with Renee, Founder & CEO at Olive Devices as a guest writer. It has been fun to work with Renee and learn about what they are trying to accomplish. A theme I noticed about her is that she is not afraid to be who she is. Below is the article I wrote titled, "It's Important. Be You!" You can learn more about Renee and the goals she is trying to achieve here.

Shortly after losing my hearing, I was told many things. I was told I would have speech
problems, that I would not excel in school, and that life would be harder for me. My parents were
also told many things about how my life would turn out because I was deaf. At an early age, I
began to learn that it is important to be me, not anyone else. It was not always easy and I
realized that I needed to find people who believed in me, I needed to surround myself with the
right tools to help aim for success, and I needed to personally believe that I can do anything.

In order to be you, you need to find people who believe in you. It can be family, friends or a
religious group -- some place where you can feel okay being you. For me, it was with my family.
I grew up with two younger brothers and one sister. I also have a big extended family, with over
20 aunts and uncles, and I am the oldest grandchild of 70+ grandkids. This big family of mine
helped shape me into who I am today. They all believed in me. When life gets hard, I remember
my family who have always been the foundation for my success.
Surround yourself with the right tools for success. In a world that offers many choices of
technology or services, are we picking the right ones for our success? Shortly after losing my
hearing, my parents invested lots of time and energy into finding the right tools for me. My father
is a contractor and loves his tool belt. Each tool is designed for a specific job, but they don't all
work for everything. He has tools that are best for building a roof and others for laying tile. I was
given the tool of a Cochlear Implant to help me hear. The Cochlear Implant is not always the
right tool for everyone and it is important to remember that. Olive Devices is working to create a
way to help someone who can't hear. One project, called FreeBell, is a wearable device that will
help people know where sounds are coming from by vibrating on the side of the body where the
sound is detected. It will also turn the speech into a written text for the recipient to understand.
This is another tool that can be added to your tool belt.

Now that you are surrounded by those who are rooting for your success and have a tool belt
filled with the right tools to help you, what's next? Believe in yourself! If you don't believe in
yourself, how are you going to have the motivation to reach your dreams, run that extra mile, or
to simply be you? Throughout my life, I have developed a passion for photography. When I look
at a photo, I am reminded of my hearing loss. There is no sound, only expressions and
moments in time. Photography became a way to help me tell my story and to be who I am.
While I was learning this skill, I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that my perspective
mattered and that I had something to contribute to those around me. This made me comfortable
enough to share it with the world. Remember, it is important to be you.

February 26, 2017

Finding Clarity

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week! As a family, we attend church and it is a challenge to keep a toddler calm and entertained during services and while my wife plays the organ. I have found that it is in those simple moments where God reminds me that everything is okay and that He is aware of our stage in life. Sometimes, it does not take a huge event to find clarity and a renewed faith if God, but rather simple steps towards a goal.

A few weeks ago I realized that I needed to get new glasses as the ones I had were five years old. After visiting the eye doctor, they made a few simple changes and ordered my new glasses. Once I put the new ones on, everything was more sharp and clear. I had forgotten how clear some things are around me. Just like these glasses, if we stop doing those small things to help build our faith in God, we lose the full clarity in life. Each Sunday, I focus on keeping Lucas occupied with books, snacks and walks around the hall. While I am not able to fully pay attention, it is those weekly church meetings that help keep my vision and faith clear.

February 16, 2017

Something's Off

Ever have a moment where you know something is just off and you are not sure what it is exactly?!? That happened to me over this past weekend. The weekend started off great and I got a lot done but I began to notice that there was something's off about my hearing. Of course, I am deaf and wear cochlear implants. But, something was really off with the way I was hearing with my Cochlear Implant. This is nothing new or alarming to me and I thought it was just a weird phase. I kept thinking it would pass and things will be back to the "normal" that I know.

Sunday, things started to sound even more off and I was supposed to teach a class that day. The way I was hearing began to make it harder for me to hear and I was becoming uncomfortable holding a conversation with lots of background noise. I ended up not being able to teach and felt very out of place. Again, I kept telling myself that it will pass and to try putting my cochlear implant in a drying system and see if moisture got in.

Monday morning, things started to sound a little better but not all the way there. I went to work that day and once again I started to become uncomfortable with holding conversations and having a hard time understanding everything everyone was saying. The same thing happened the following day and thought I would have to go see my audiologist.

On Tuesday night I was working on a project and the thought came, "switch out your microphone on the implant" -- I thought, "I don't think it will do much, but I will give it a try." Sure enough, after I replaced my microphone, everything sounded back to normal! I felt so relieved and more grateful for my hearing.

Tips and reminders for future "something's off" moments:
  • Inspect the device, troubleshoot. 
  • Switch out parts (headpieces, microphones, and batteries.) 
  • Place in a drying system to help pull out any moisture. 
  • If none of the first three options helped, consult with your audiologist. 
Living with cochlear implants is a blessing but it also as holds it's unique challenges along the journey.

What are your "something's off" moments?

February 14, 2017

January 18, 2017

Flash Back - From Silent Moment to Silent Day

Today I kept thinking about some of my upbringing experiences and the challenges I face and continue to face as an adult. I am grateful for all those in my life that help me find the blessing in each day. The last few weeks my son has been learning sign language and it is so fun to watch! 

Enjoy a post from the past! 

July 10, 2010

Most of my posts are about Silent Moments but not this one. This post is about a Silent Day.

This past week I was in Texas for a Family Reunion and we went to a water park. I was a little worried because I knew I would have to take my Cochlear Implants off since we are surrounded by water. I didn't mind not being able to hear but when I am in big crowds I feel a little lost. I thought “I can’t do this.” But then I remembered a little saying on my desk “Do Hard Things and Go the Distance”.

We arrived at the parking lot and I thought, “here I go” and took my Cochlear Implants off. I got out of the car and took a deep breath and said a prayer in my heart asking for comfort. Right after that my little 8-year-old cousin, Bridger, came running to me and mouthed the words really big saying “You are my buddy!!” He was so cute about it and I never knew he was an answer to my prayer until halfway into the day.

We get to our gathering place and Bridger says “Let's go on the slides!” I was still a little shy to go on them but with his big smile and his hand holding tight to my hand we went to go find some cool slides. Bridger was my ears and he was good at it. He made up his own signs and he always made sure I understood what was going on. I then found myself relaxed and knew that I was going to be just fine. It also gave me a new perspective on things. Sometimes we never know what someone is going through so we should be the best friend and person we can be. Bridger did not know how I was feeling on the inside but he took me by the hand and did the best that he could do. This little 8-year-old boy was a huge example to me and seems like an adult.

Thank you, Bridger!!

(Today, Bridger is growing into a fine young man who is thriving on his swim team.)